Show­case: Tyler War­ren

Surfer - - Contents - Words by TODD PRODANOVICH Pho­tos by SAGE BURGESS

The ex­per­i­men­tal surfer, shaper and visual artist cap­tures beach cul­ture’s most idyl­lic form on can­vas

Tyler War­ren stands in the back of his San Juan Capis­trano, Cal­i­for­nia, garage-turned-art-stu­dio, hold­ing a paint­ing of a woman in a vin­tage bathing suit. She’s adrift in the ocean, ly­ing com­fort­ably on a long­board as a spire of sur­real cu­mu­lus clouds climbs up from the hori­zon be­hind her. The woman’s closed eyes and calm face paired with the strange cloud for­ma­tion gives the paint­ing a dream­like feel­ing, as if the col­or­ful world she re­sides in is one of her own in­ven­tion.

“I re­ally like try­ing to fit it all to­gether — the com­po­si­tion, the col­ors — to cre­ate these per­fect mo­ments in time where ev­ery­thing just feels right,” says War­ren. “I want it to feel like when you’re at the beach and it’s sunny and glassy, not a drop of water out of place, and then build on that feel­ing.”

Most know War­ren as a pro­fes­sional surfer, grac­ing movies and mag­a­zine spreads while rid­ing ev­ery­thing from over­sized glid­ers to tiny twin-fins in his stylish fash­ion. But War­ren was a visual artist be­fore a spon­sor’s sticker ever made it onto the nose of his surf­board, con­stantly draw­ing and ty­ing his art back to his love of surf­ing.

“I started draw­ing on surf­boards when I was in high school, and then I started mak­ing T-shirt graph­ics, print­ing them out and sell­ing them out of my truck,” he says. “A lot of my early in­flu­ence came from my Un­cle Drew who used to fol­low the Grate­ful Dead, screen-print­ing shirts and mak­ing stick­ers to sell at the con­certs. He sent me a disc with all these psy­che­delic posters from the ’60s, and the more you looked at those il­lus­tra­tions, the more you saw.”

Af­ter high school, War­ren worked as an ap­pren­tice un­der his other un­cle, il­lus­tra­tor Ken­ton Nel­son, while study­ing art at Sad­dle­back Col­lege and cre­at­ing com­mis­sioned pieces for brands and col­lec­tors alike. But his unique blend of surf skill, artis­tic in­cli­na­tion and crafts­man­ship — War­ren’s hand­shapes are highly sought af­ter in the al­ter­na­tive-sur­fcraft scene — even­tu­ally caught the eye of surf megabrand Bil­l­abong, which asked him to join its team ros­ter.

To­day, War­ren’s life is a bal­anc­ing act split be­tween chas­ing swells and art shows around the world, lo­cal surf ses­sions around San Onofre and Tres­tles, work­ing on new oil paint­ings in his stu­dio and mow­ing foam in his shap­ing bay. But, ac­cord­ing to War­ren, the ben­e­fit of be­ing a jack-of-all-trades is that you find in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery­where.

“The clouds in that paint­ing came from one ses­sion in In­done­sia,” says War­ren. “I was just look­ing at these re­ally strange, beau­ti­ful clouds on the hori­zon and think­ing, ‘I’ve got to paint these.’ And from there I might take a photo of one of my friends or a car or surf­board that I like and mix it all to­gether. Those im­ages might have a fa­mil­iar feel, but in the end it’s an ide­al­ized ver­sion — some­thing dreamier than any­thing we ac­tu­ally see in real life.”

Surfer, shaper and visual artist Tyler War­ren cap­tures beach cul­ture’s most idyl­lic form on can­vas

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